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A combination of stunning scenery and religious heritage makes the Viros Gorge a popular route with keen hikers.

 

Stretching 20km, from the bay of Kardamili on the Peloponnese to the summit of Mount Taygetus, the gorge is crossed by several other trails, giving walkers options for further exploration, so it is worth planning potential routes before you set off. A typical hike can last between four and five hours, and a morning start lessens the risks of the wonderful higher views being obscured by mists.

There are waymarkers, but parts of the trail can become overgrown, and there are many rocky paths, so it is wise to wear stout footwear, as well as carrying plenty of water and other refreshment. The gorge is usually dry in summer but heavier rainfall and melting mountain snows can cause considerable flooding at other times of the year.

Natural wonders in the gorge, part of the rugged Mani region, include limestone cliffs and caves, as well as the 7,887ft peak of Taygetus, and wildlife including tortoises, goats, snakes and lizards, plus olive groves and a variety of other plantlife.

You can pass through villages nestling in the mountains, and among historic churches on the way are the 18th century Aghios Spiridon, in Kardamili, Byzantine Agia Sophia, one of the oldest in the area, the monastery of Lykaki, built in 1570 and housing well-preserved 18th century frescoes, and the deserted monastery of Sotiros. Some of the churches have water taps outside to refresh visitors.

See other recommended walks in Greece and Cyprus.